Frequently Asked Questions About Potty Training

There are bound to be bumps and (sadly) accidents on this journey of potty training.  We're here to help!  We've included answers to common questions we've received about potty training as well as some special tips from Paulina, the Poo Poo Fairy herself! 

Need more help?  Email us at 

At what age should I potty train my child?

Experts generally agree that a child will develop the physical and cognitive skills needed for potty training somewhere between 18 months and 3 years old.  Experts also stress, however, that every child is different and will embrace potty training on their own timetable.  Given the uniqueness of every child, there really is no "right" age or deadline for potty training.  Some children are ready to start early, while others are going to take their time.  The important thing is to watch your child for when they are ready.  You can help your child get ready for potty training -- at any age -- with a little help from the Poo Poo Fairy.  You can start simply by reading them Paulina's story and begin the conversation with them about learning to use the big-kid potty.

How do I know my child is ready for potty training?

This can be a tough question for parents.  There is a huge amount of information out there regarding signs of readiness for potty training.  The American Academy of Pediatrics has great information on its website (, and your child's pediatrician is also an important resource about this milestone.  Indicators of readiness include:  your child is staying dry for longer periods of time, has regular bowel movements, is able to listen and be engaged in simple activities, and shows interest in the bathroom or having their diaper changed.

While this information is useful, no bell is going to ring to tell you your child is ready.  And if you wait for your toddler to agree to be potty-trained, you may be changing diapers for a lot longer than you wanted.  Parents worry, though, that if they start too early, potty training will be a horrible experience for both them and their child.  Here is where the Poo Poo Fairy can help.  With the Poo Poo Fairy, you can begin to prepare your child even if they are showing no interest in being potty-trained (which sometimes happens).  Start by reading your child the story of the Poo Poo Fairy who helps another little boy learn to use the big-kid potty.  Talk to them about how it will soon be their turn, and explain that Paulina will be coming to help them when they are ready.  As you read the book and talk about the process, you can gauge their reaction and interest.  We think the most important sign of readiness is your child being excited about potty training and willing to try, and Paulina will help!

Thoughts from Paulina:  When your little guy or gal is getting stronger and more coordinated and is just generally growing up way too fast -- and you are feeling the intense urge to stop time! -- it is safe to say that the time for potty training is quickly approaching.  Watch for your little one to take an interest in bathroom habits (sometimes with embarrassing questions and a desire for a front row seat).  Also, look for them to begin taking pride in their accomplishments and learning new things.  I love when my trainees are able to ask for me by name, which is music to my ears and shows they'll be able to alert Mom and Dad when they need to use the potty.  Once this is happening, you'll know that I am circling the neighborhood and will be visiting soon! 

Do I really have to wait for the signs?  What if my preschool requires my child to be potty-trained?  Or I have another baby on the way?  Can I try sooner?

No parent wants to try potty training too early.  In reality, though, there are often external pressures and deadlines which require potty training to begin earlier than we would otherwise want.  These are the times when the Poo Poo Fairy becomes particularly helpful.  With the Poo Poo Fairy, it is easy to get started, and you can use the Poo Poo Fairy to help speed up your child's interest and enthusiasm for the process.  Paulina is great with those stubborn or reluctant toddlers who are resisting your attempts at potty training.

As you read Paulina's magical story and explain that Paulina will soon be visiting your home, your child will get excited about a magical helper coming to visit.  Build upon this excitement by involving them in preparations for Paulina's arrival as much as possible, including picking out "big-kid" underwear and trying out the potty.  The best chance for success comes when your child feels enthusiastic and confident about what is expected of them.  Just remember to stay positive and encouraging, even if there are set-backs or accidents.

Should I keep using diapers and pull-ups or go straight to underwear?

We have seen successes in potty training using both routes.  In our experience, though, we have found it makes the process quicker and less confusing for your child to stick with underwear once you have started potty training.  The more clear and straight-forward the "potty training" rules are, the better.  Going back and forth between diapers and underwear just adds to the confusion.  We've also found that kids make fewer mistakes when they can feel the results!  Let your child pick out underwear they are excited about and then make sure they understand the one rule:  Keep that special underwear dry and clean.

Many people feel more comfortable putting their children in diapers at night during potty training. We suggest sticking to the same rule for all of the same reasons.  Invest in a good plastic sheet for your child’s bed, and let them try to make it through the night.  You can help them succeed by limiting what they drink before bed time and making sure they have a potty break right before going to bed. 

Should I use a little kid potty or the toilet? 

This is really a matter of preference.  We prefer not to have to clean pee and poop from a little toilet when it can be avoided.  Potty seats allow children to be able to sit directly on the toilet without the mess of a little potty. You can get a stool so the child can access the big potty as easily as they would have been able to with the little one.  And this way you eliminate the need to essentially re-train your child to use the big potty after they have mastered the little one.  But both ways work.  And kids often get excited to have a little potty just for them. 

What do I do if my child doesn't go? 

We'll let Paulina cover this one.

Thoughts from Paulina on the Reluctant "Goer":  “Just let it go!”  I've heard so many parents say these words over and over.  The solution seems so simple to parents.  However, to a child who has never done this before, the idea of “letting it go” in the potty rather than the diaper seems super scary.  The result is a battle between exhausted parents and an uncertain child with tightly clenched butt cheeks!

Remember my goal is always to make potty training a fun experience, so frustration and tempers are unwelcome company.  Should you have a “reluctant goer,” try adding a little extra whimsy to the process.  Get your sweet child’s mind off of their fear and back to me by reading my story while they sit on the potty!!  Remind them that I am there and excited to see them succeed.  A reminder that I have rewards waiting for them if they succeed couldn’t hurt either!

To further distract our trainee from any fear they might have, try having one of my "helpers" (mom, dad, or older sibling) stand outside the closed bathroom door.  Have them play some fairy noises from a mobile device.  These noises can be easily found on the internet.  While your child is listening, remind them that I am just outside the door, hopeful and cheering for them to succeed.  In really tough situations, our helper could throw a small prize under the door to reward your child for their valiant attempts.  Keep reminding your child that -- just like me in the story -- they need to keep trying.

Your child may not go the first time they try ... or even the first ten times they try.  This is new to them, and it may take several attempts to have success.  The key is to keep at it.  Give your child as many opportunities as possible for success by allowing them to sit on the potty many times during the day -- especially after they have just downed a full juice box and will surely be needing to go soon!  I find a timer is super helpful, so you and your child know to head back to the potty every so often.  You can start with short periods in between attempts and then get longer as your child gets more confident.

How should I respond to an accident?

Paulina, what do you think?

 Thoughts from Paulina on the Dreaded Accident:  Even though it's not the most fun thing, it is pretty typical for your trainee to have several accidents during potty training.  It happens to every child!  This is natural, and I think staying positive and encouraging is the best way to help.

 I know some people suggest a negative consequence for every accident, but I would stick with positive reinforcement.  The accident itself is enough of a negative occurrence (especially if you are not using diapers), since your child realizes how uncomfortable it is to have wet or dirty pants and will want to avoid that feeling in the future.  An accident in many ways helps to reinforce what you are trying to teach them.

You can minimize accidents by making sure you are taking them to the potty often.  In the beginning, you will need to ask them frequently if they need the potty.  As they progress, you will want to ask them less and less, so they will realize that they are capable of holding it.  You also want them to learn to recognize their needs on their own.  Keep track of your child's capabilities.  As they become more experienced potty-goers, you will be able to ask them fewer times throughout the day.

In the early days, plan on at least a few accidents.  When a new trainee fails, make sure to encourage them to be brave and keep trying.  And then rejoice in their willingness to try again.  Avoid anger and disappointment.  Remind them that I am still watching and waiting for them to succeed and that my prizes will be there when they get it right.  

My child can go pee but struggles with poo -- what should I do?

This is actually a fairly common problem for kids.  Pooping is often the most difficult part of potty training.  If pooping is becoming a hang-up for your child, do your best to talk it through with your child.  It is best to understand exactly what is hard or scary about pooping in the potty.  Try to discover why they are afraid and then work to discover ways to help them overcome their fear.

For many children, the fear of pooping can increase anxiety and cause an upset stomach.  Your child may associate this aching in their tummies with pooping in the potty, and all of this just makes their fear of pooping worse.  It can help sometimes to explain to them that these are just nervous butterflies in their tummies which makes it feel weird and it is not the pooping that hurts.  Remind them that getting the poop out and into the toilet actually makes their tummies feel better.  Don’t underestimate how much your child can understand.  They are observant and smart and can catch onto this concept!

Do everything you can to make sure your child does not become constipated while potty training, as this will just add to the difficulties.  Make sure you give your child lots of liquids and fruits and vegetables to making pooping easier.  It is very common for children to stop going poop altogether during the first couple days.  Keep encouraging them, and hopefully, when it does happen, it will be in the potty!

And as always, remind them that the Poo Poo Fairy is here to cheer them on and to reward them when they succeed!   

Should the Poo Poo Fairy give a prize for a good try, even if it is still a miss?

Here is what Paulina thinks.  

Thoughts from Paulina on the good try:  As you know, my favorite thing is to see children smile and laugh, and I hate to see a child lose the happy twinkle in their eyes when they try, but fail.  So, if my trainee has been trying their hardest and making many valiant attempts, I sometimes give a reward, even if it wasn't a complete success.  Usually, I give a smaller prize in this situation and then remind them that the bigger rewards are for when they reach their goal of going in the potty. 

What about siblings who want to spoil the magic? 

The best way to get older siblings not to spoil the magic of the Poo Poo Fairy is to involve them as much as possible.  "Deputize" them as one of the Poo Poo Fairy's special "helpers."  Tell them you need their help to potty train their brother or sister and find ways to include them.  The help of an older brother or sister is often a huge motivator for the younger child.  If old enough, siblings can also be the perfect person to put the prizes in fun places.